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Baylor Football 2015 Position Previews: Running Backs

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Led by junior Shock Linwood, Baylor has a deep group of RBs that should help first-year starting QB Seth Russell find his feet with a strong running game.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a season wherein Baylor often found itself with just two healthy options at RB, 2015 seems almost an embarrassment of riches at the position despite the loss of fan favorite Silas Nacita, aka "Salsa Nacho", to eligibility issues earlier this year.

This year, we'll begin the season with 5 scholarship RBs on the roster, all of whom are healthy as of this writing (as far as I know).  Coming off a 1250-yard season in 2014, Shock Linwood obviously leads the way, but don't be surprised at all to see Chafin, Jefferson, and Williams play big roles this season, as well.

Eligibility Remaining
No. Player Year Ht/Wt. Position 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
32 Shock Linwood
JR 5-9/195 Running Back




28 Devin Chafin
JR
6-0/225 Running Back




5
Johnny Jefferson
SO 5-10/205 Running Back




31 Wyatt Schrepfer
SO 5-9/200 Running Back




33 Iain Hunter SO 6-0/210 Running Back




22 Terence Williams RS-FR 6-2/210 Running Back




6 J'Mycal Hasty
FR 5-8/185 Running Back




25 Dwyer Bucey
FR 5-9/200 Running Back




That's 8 RBs on the roster, in case you didn't care to count, most of whom you probably already know.  For the others, why, that's why this post series exists!  Let's start with Shock Linwood, the biggest known quantity we have at the position who is entering his junior year.

Shock Linwood -- JR -- #32 -- 5-9, 195 pounds

Two years ago, Shock Linwood was a former-WR-turned-RB coming off a redshirt year who was expected to basically just provide depth behind established starters Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin.  One early injury to Martin later, and Linwood had quickly established himself as a quality back alongside Seastrunk.  Now, he's #9 on the all-time Baylor rushing charts already with 2133 yards in two seasons. With just 57 more yards, he'll pass Seastrunk for #8, and with another season even close to what he did in 2014, he'll jump all the way to #2 within shooting distance of Walter Abercrombie himself and an entire senior year left to get there.

On this offense, and with his history of steady performance, I'd argue that Shock Linwood is as known a quantity as any skill player we have heading into 2015.  Though he lacks the pure breakaway speed that made Lache so special, Shock makes up for it (at least somewhat) with exceptional balance and surprising power and durability for his size.  Last year, he carried the ball a somewhat-astounding 251 times for 1252 yards, averaging nearly 20 carries a game and etching his name in the Baylor record books with the second-best season ever by a Baylor RB in terms of rushing yardage.  To top it off, arguably his best performance came in that memorable game against TCU, when he carried the ball 29 times for 178 yards and helped run the Horned Frogs off the field in the second half.

The only real problem, so much as it is one, with Shock's 2014 campaign is that his yards per carry dropped nearly two full yards, from 6.9 to 5.0.  It's impossible to pin that drop on any one thing, but I've always wondered if a big part of it might be attributable to his increased workload.  251 carries is more than any Baylor RB has had in a single season since Rashad Armstrong in 2003, including, to my surprise, Terrance Ganaway, who had 250 in his record-breaking 2011 season.* On this basis alone, and not even considering that Ganaway and Linwood are very different backs, it seems reasonable to assume that 251 is just too much, and the coaching staff would rather that number be between 180 and 200.

*Remember that when you're doing your Community Projections for Linwood.  251 is a severe outlier for a Baylor RB under Briles, not something we should expect to see again.

The good news on that front is that with Seth Russell at QB and the next two guys on this list healthy (at least for now), simply spreading the ball around naturally should help reduce that total, leaving Linwood fresher, longer.  And that should be something that scares opposing defenses as much as it reassures us.

Devin Chafin -- JR -- #28 -- 6-0, 225 pounds

To date, the story of Devin Chafin's career at Baylor has been one of tremendous promise limited by occasional injuries.  Out of 26 games the last two years, Chafin has officially missed 6 due to injuries and been limited in his performance in several others.  Last year, Chafin's absence was a big part of the reason we had to ask Linwood to do so much, as he appeared in 9 games out of 13 and carried the ball just 80 times on the season.

This year, Chafin will obviously try to stay healthy in order to fill the big back role our offense sorely lacked at times in 2014.  He's got the size for it at 6-0/225, and even better, he's got the speed, having been timed at 4.43 in the 40 during his Baylor career.

If Chafin can stay healthy this season, I'd expect to see a big increase in his workload.  Whether that means something akin to Glasco's 2012 (179 carries) or 2013 (120), I can't say, but that's probably the right range.

Johnny Jefferson -- SO -- #5 -- 5-10, 205 pounds

With Antwan Goodley gone to the NFL, the sophomore RB from Killeen has taken up his #5 jersey and will look to build on a 2014 season in which he appeared in 11 games and carried the ball 100 times for 524 yards.

This season will be really important for Jefferson and his future at Baylor.  With Hasty here in the 2015 class and Kameron Martin coming in 2016, Jefferson needs to take advantage of his opportunity behind Shock this year to establish himself as a top-flight back.  Thankfully, I think we've seen enough to say that he has that potential; he just needs to stay healthy for a full season and take advantage of the chances he'll undoubtedly get.

Wyatt Schrepfer -- SO -- #31 -- 5-9, 200 pounds

I'm not going to spend a ton of time on our transfer RB from the Colorado School of Mines since BearyPunny gave us a great look at him back in the spring.  Aside from the wonderful information, my favorite part was the gif of this run from the Friday Night Lights scrimmage:

That DB was: ☑ rekt ☐ not rekt.

Iain Hunter -- SO -- #33 -- 6-0, 210 pounds

Here's what I said about Hunter last year, when he was a freshman and I had no idea who he was:

Every now and then, we get to a player on the roster that I couldn't tell apart from Adam, whose name I'd never seen before opening up the latest roster.  Iain Hunter, with no disrespect intended, is one of those guys.  He has a HUDL profile from his time at Cinco Ranch HS, which is good.  In the videos on it, however, he's wearing #57 and is playing left tackle.  That's ... interesting, to say the least.  If more information becomes available about our tackle-turned-walkon RB, I'll be sure to let you know.

Complete disclosure: all of that is still 100% true.

Terence Williams -- RS-FR -- #22 -- 6-2, 210 pounds

Like Starks in Winterfell, there apparently must always be a Terence/Terrence Williams at Baylor.  Please note that this one is Terence with one "r," since I'm betting that's a mistake a lot of people make before his career in Waco ends.

How Baylor uses this Williams, coming off his redshirt year and with 3 RBs presumably ahead of him on the depth chart, will be something to watch closely this coming season.  He apparently caught a TD pass over the middle in the Meet the Bears practice this past Saturday, making him the first Baylor RB to do that in as long as I can remember.  With his size, he could also fill the big back role alongside (or maybe in place of) Chafin.  Regardless how he's used, he's a talented player that I'm excited to see this coming season, when he'll actually get to show he can do.

JaMycal Hasty -- FR -- #6 -- 5-8, 185 pounds

I'm marking Hasty as a redshirt this year because there's little doubt that's what he's going to do.  His year will be spent practicing with the scout team and working with Kaz to build strength and size for a Big 12 schedule.  Then, he'll go into the mix next year at RB/IR in what should be an extremely crowded field and try to carve out a spot as a home-run hitter the likes of which we haven't had since Lache left. Hasty was one of the biggest gems in our 2015 class, particularly since he missed most of his senior season due to injury and became slightly underrated, as a result, and I'm excited to see him in green and gold.

Dwyer Bucey -- FR -- #25 -- 5-9, 200 pounds

Dwyer has a HUDL account with videos from his time at Strake Jesuit in Houston, Texas, and that's about all I know. Welcome to the team, Dwyer!

*****

With each of our three biggest backs from last year returning and Terence Williams joining their ranks, I'm comfortable where Baylor is at the RB position to help ease Seth Russell into the starting role.  Shock will lead the way, in what I'm guessing/hoping will be a slightly more managed role now that he has three other backs behind him, and things set up nicely with the four scholarship backs slotting two to each role.  The only true question I have with respect to our RBs doesn't really have all that much to do with him; we've yet to see Kendall Briles calling plays for a Big 12 game, much less an entire season, and that's definitely something to watch.